Couldn’t find the English online: “Protest, counter-protest planned over gender-segregated buses” by Yair Ettinger p. 4, Thursday April 24, 2009 Haaretz English tells of a protest in the Shmuel haNavi neighborhood of Jerusalem and a counter-protest by the Orthodox women’s group Kolech*, which is demanding that gender-separate buses be eliminated.
Not only has the establishment of the Jewish state granted the ultra-Orthodox inordinate power, as explained here, ironically, precisely here in the Jewish state, Jewish ingenuity and entrepreneurship among the ultra-Orthodox is atrophying.
By way of explanation, let’s imagine a hypothetical ultra-Orthodox Jew in New York City who decides that he’s fed up with the existing public transportation options because he’s uncomfortable with being in close proximity to women. Obviously, he does not have the option of demanding that the city provide him with “kosher” transportation options. What’s the obvious next step? Start his own!
He gets his commercial driver’s license, takes out a loan, obtains the necessary permits for routes, buys a couple of vans, hires a couple of drivers, and voila ― a parnassah! He can even expand into the Muslim neighborhoods and eventually his business will support his own family and perhaps even others: Everybody wins.
Meanwhile, here in the Holy Land, sadly, everybody’s losing. How much psychic energy has been expended on both sides of this confrontation? Isn’t it about time we found a “third way”, instead of “My Way / Your Way”? My suggestion to the women of Kolech and if they’re smart, all relevant authorities (the Industry & Trade and Transportation Ministries, for starters): Propose to the ultra-Orthodox demonstrators that they start their own transportation company, and outline the steps needed to get there. There it is again―that coaching thing: Figure out where you want to go and take positive steps to get there: Everyone wins.
*I have to take a moment here and award this group the Yam Erez Clever Business and NPO Names award for not calling themselves Re’ut; Ofek / Ofakim; Keshet; Gvanim; Zchut [or some form thereof]; or Yad [or some form thereof]. Good going, gals!